Save Jean Klock Park
Emergency Financial Manager and Harbor Shores
Breach 2008 Lease Agreement for Jean Klock Park --
Circumvent the Political Process!

    On March 4, 2014, three days before his duties ended, Benton Harbor’s Emergency
    Financial Manager (EFM), Tony Saunders, entered into an Agreement with Jeffrey
    Noel, president of Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment Inc. (HSCRI) and
    who is also corporate vice president, Communications and Public Affairs of
    Whirlpool Corporation, to “delete” Section 2.03(b)(iv) of the 2008 Lease Agreement
    between the City and HSCRI for Jean Klock Park.

    Under Section 2.03(b)(iv) of the Lease Agreement, HSCRI was obligated to
    construct the East Klock Road Extension (which was considered “Additional Rent”
    under the 99 year Lease Agreement) as further compensation for the use of 22 acres
    of Jean Klock Park's once pristine sand dunes and other natural habitat.  

    The March 4, 2014 Agreement has eroded the 2008 Lease Agreement and creates
    grave concerns that other sections of the Lease may be in jeopardy of radically,
    being “deleted." The Agreement was entered into secretly and did not follow the
    requirements and procedures set forth in the Lease Agreement.

    Both the State of Michigan Attorney General’s Office and Charitable Trust Division
    (AG) has jurisdiction over proposed amendments to the Lease Agreement and both
    must be notified 60 days in advance of the City of Benton Harbor and HSCRI  
    entering into an agreement. That didn’t take place. Instead the parties submitted a
    signed Agreement to the Charitable Trust Division asking for the AG’s approval to
    delete Section 2.03(b)(iv) of the 2008 Lease Agreement. The AG’s Charitable Trust
    attorney responded simply saying that the Department “does not object."  

    On February 17, 2015 a letter was sent to the AG’s office, along with accompanying
    documents, that support claims that procedure was not followed and why this
    Agreement may have been entered into illegally. On March 9, 2015 the Assistant
    Attorney General responded. Click here to read the response letter and our

    Click to read the original signed letter (PDF without exhibits) to the Assistant
    Attorney General or follow a copy of the letter below with links to exhibits that were
    attached to the original letter.

    William R. Bloomfield
    State of Michigan Department of Attorney General
    Charitable Trust Attorney
    Corporate Oversight Division

    Re: March 4, 2014 Agreement between the City of Benton Harbor and HSCRI

    Dear Mr. Bloomfield,

    In recent months I have attempted through FOIA requests to obtain documentation of
    email communications and phone discussions, etc., between the Attorney General’s
    office, John Cameron of Dickinson Wright PLLC, the City of Benton Harbor, HSCRI
    (Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment Inc) or other interested parties involved in
    the March 4, 2014 revision to the 2008 Lease Agreement  between the City and
    HSCRI. According to your office, and with the exception of your March 27, 2014 non-
    objection letter to John Cameron, practically nothing exists.

    The Agreement effectively removed HSCRI’s obligation to see that the Klock Rd.
    Extension (as required under the Considerations as Rent in the Lease)  was
    constructed. The road extension had a construction cost of $873,954  and was to be
    additional compensation for the loss/conversion of 22 acres of Jean Klock Park for 3
    holes of a golf course.

    The Agreement circumvented the democratic process because it was entered into
    without transparency... read more |
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